What are Clinical Trials?

Think about how medical technology was 500 years ago. There was not the same type of medical treatment as there is today. There has been so much progress in the medical field. Part of the progress comes from clinical trials. Clinical trials are a part of clinical medical research that involves people. There are two types of clinical research:

  • Observational Studies
  • Clinical Trials

Observational studies are meant to observe people in a certain setting. In order to do this, researchers will get together information and put together volunteers accordingly. Then they will compare changes over a set period of time. However, clinical trials are a different story.

What are Clinical Trials?

Research studies that are performed on people with the goal of better understanding a medical, behavioral, or surgical intervention are clinical trials. This is one of the most effective ways for researchers to figure out if a new treatment could actually help patients in the real world. This could include a new drug, a new medical device like a pacemaker, and more. Clinical trials take a look at the benefits and drawbacks that participants go through during the clinical trial. Besides the reasons listed above, clinical trials could also be for:

  • Ways to find a disease in the early stages
  • Preventing health problems
  • Improving the quality of life for people with a life-threatening condition
  • Improving the quality of life for people with a chronic health problem
  • Understanding caregivers or other supportive groups

Not just anyone can conduct a clinical trial on patients. First, scientists will do lab tests and animal trials. Once they believe that the clinical trial is safe and worth testing on humans, they will need to get approval. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) needs to approve the clinical trial before it can be conducted on people. Once that approval is given then clinical trials can begin.

What are the Four Phases of a Clinical Trial?

There are four phases that are a part of a clinical trial:

  • First: The phase I trial is an experimental treatment done on a small group of people. Typically this is a group of between 20 and 80 individuals.  During this phase, scientists can get a better understanding of how safe something is.
  • Second: The phase II trial is basically a continuation of phase I. Except, it is done on more people (usually between 100 to 300). While phase I highlights how safe something is, phase II more so looks at how effective it is. In order to fully understand the effects that could happen, this phase could last years!
  • Third: The phase III trial looks at getting the most information possible on both the safety and effectiveness of something. It will look at different dosages, different control groups, and more. The amount of people that take part in a phase III trial is typically between a few hundred to roughly 3,000 participants! If the result of these three phases looks good, then the FDA will give an approval on the thing that was being tested. That could be a drug, medical device, etc.
  • Fourth: Finally, the phase IV trial is only done once the FDA gives their approval. This will allow the thing being tested to be monitored in bigger populations. It can help researchers truly understand just how safe and effective something is at the largescale.

Why Should Anyone Participate in a Clinical Trial?

There are a variety of different reasons as to why someone may choose to take part in a clinical trial. Some reasons include:

  • They were looking for support with their health condition when traditional means did not work
  • Individuals are looking for any sort of treatment for their health problem that currently doesn’t have any treatment
  • Those that want to find out about new, cutting-edge treatments before it hits the market
  • Individuals that want to help progress medical technology

Regardless of the reason that others will do it, you need to look at your own situation in order to find the best reason for why you should do it. For example, if you get migraines and have never been able to find relief, a clinical trial for migraine prevention may be able to offer you relief!

How Does the Clinical Trial Process Work?

The exact process for each clinical trial can vary depending on the trial. However, you can basically break down the process of a clinical trial into 7 steps:

  1. Professional staff will give you more in-depth information about the trials and learn more details about yourself
  2. If you qualify and agree to participate, you will need to sign a consent form
  3. You will go through a screening process to determine if you actually are eligible for the trial
  4. If the screening process shows that you qualify then you will be accepted into the trial
  5. Once you are accepted into the trial you will need to schedule your baseline visit (this is just your first visit)
  6. You will be placed into either a treatment group or control group
  7. You will follow trial procedures, if at any point you have a question, comment, or concern then you can reach out to the researchers

How to Find a Clinical Trial?

If you want to find a clinical trial, it’s easier than you think! There are a variety of different ways that you can find clinical trials. You may see ads for clinical trials on social media like Instagram or Twitter. However, other ways you can find clinical trials are by:

  • Talking to your healthcare provider
  • Looking online
  • Signing up to a clinical trial registry

Bottom Line

Clinical trials are research studies that are performed on people with the goal of better understanding a medical, behavioral, or surgical intervention. Not anyone can conduct a clinical trial. Instead, there are four phases that a clinical trial must go through. Clinical trials can help medical progression. That’s because these trials aim to:

  • Find ways to detect a disease in the early stages
  • Test out new drugs or medical devices
  • Prevent health problems
  • Improve the quality of life for people with a life-threatening condition
  • Improve the quality of life for people with a chronic health problem
  • Understand caregivers or other supportive groups

There are plenty of reasons why people may choose to pursue a clinical trial. If you have an interest in participating in a clinical trial then you’re in luck. There are a lot of ways to find some available opportunities. However, one of the best places to start is by looking online.